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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 17 April 2003

17 April 2003

17 April 2003 The Catholic bishops of Scotland have said that Catholic voters in the forthcoming elections to the Scottish parliament on 1 May must consider the stands of the political parties on moral issues including abortion. In a letter to be sent to all parishes in Scotland, the bishops say that Catholics should exercise their right to vote but that this "must be done in accord with one's conscience formed by the teachings of the Church". It is reported that the guidance could affect the number of votes cast for the Scottish Socialist Party, which courts Catholic support but which campaigns for easier availability of the abortifacient morning-after pill. [The Scotsman online and BBC News online , 16 April] One of Britain's leading medical scientists has said that heart disease and other illnesses could begin in the earliest stages of life in the womb. Professor David Barker, head of the Medical Research Council's epidemiology unit at Southampton University, also said that a good maternal diet before and during pregnancy could protect an unborn child from heart attacks, stroke or diabetes in later life. In his new book entitled "The Best Start in Life", Professor Barker observes that a maternal diet high in proteins and low in carbohydrates could create problems for the embryo, and that there is "a clear link between thin women and the way their babies handle sugar". [Guardian, 10 April ] Police in the Philippines have arrested six women on suspicion of committing abortions. The director of the National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group announced that the six women as well two suspected accomplices were arrested during an entrapment operation at a clandestine abortion clinic in Obando. Performing an abortion is strictly forbidden in the Philippines and is punishable by up to 12 years in prison, but the head of the Police division for the concerns of women and children complained that sentences were often very light and urged legislators to declare abortion to be a heinous crime. [ABS-CBN News, 12 April ] The state of South Dakota is appealing against a federal judge's decision to overturn two state laws on abortion which date back to 1973 - the year in which the US Supreme Court declared a constitutional right to abortion in the case of Roe v Wade. The laws, which banned abortions in clinics after the first trimester, were successfully challenged last year by Planned Parenthood. [AberdeenNews.com, 17 April ] The authorities in Nepal are considering the fate of 50 women currently in prison for procuring abortions who were sentenced before the abortion law was liberalised last September. Women's rights activists have called on the government to declare a general amnesty for the prisoners, especially because all those currently imprisoned for abortion-related crimes are women. [LifeSite, 16 April ; Spotlight Weekly, Nepal, 11 - 17 April ]

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